Talk·Point of View

An open letter to every man at the Oct. 1 mayoral debate

Joey Mleczko issues an open call to every mayoral candidate on stage during a question about gender equity.

Joey Mleczko is an active member of be community who wants "to see compassion and fairness for my neighbours."

Two candidates for mayor laughed off question about gender equality

After reading this article, I was infuriated.

I reflected about the most effective way to respond. The harder I thought and imagined the events as they had occurred, the clearer it became what I needed to address. I need to address every man in the building that night.

To the politicians:

Joey Mleczko says by not speaking up, political candidates are complicit in gender inequality. (Joey Mleczko )

I read your comments as they were reported, and your follow ups where you attempted to clarify your intentions while simultaneously making no contractions or apologies and I realized something very important: you have no clue that what you did was wrong. As a matter of fact, you believe that your comments were either funny or in some weird way, actually are intended to lend strength to the women in your lives. I hope this clarifies where it is you misspoke!

When you refer to your partner as "the boss" or "in charge," you may believe you are offering them agency. I want to ask a question: what is wrong with a relationship that recognizes equal merit in both partners? The question was about equality after all, and your answers suggested the opposite of that. The idea that women are the gate-keepers of pleasure and that men are bumbling, misguided morons is antiquated, and not helpful in discussions about equality.

The person who suggested Halima Hatimy "sit down":

I wish we could sit down together and discuss why you believed that someone who was standing up, showing strength, and demanding accountability from her potential leaders should be dismissed. I would tell you the story that Jeff Perera from the White Ribbon Campaign tells. He shows a picture from the Boston Marathon when the first woman decides to run. In this picture, the woman is seen running with two men holding her back, and several watching while another steps in to help. I would pose the question to you of which man you are? Are you the one holding her back, are the you the one doing nothing, or are you the one helping?

To those who stayed silent:

It is up to you, and every man, to stand up and speak out in the face of oppression. As a man you are given a strength of voice, especially if you are on stage in front of press and constituents, and you choose how that voice is used. Too many of you opted out of using that voice last night. Instead, you maintained the status quo of politics being an old boys club, where strong women are silenced and nobody dares speak for the oppressed.

The incident that night reveals massive barriers that those who would see equality of the sexes/genders in Hamilton city hall face. Even as politicians wave a placating plan in the faces of voters not one of them showed conviction when given the chance. A day after the mayor raised the Sisters in Spirit flag at city hall, too many of you stood complacent in the face of sexism.

Do you have something to say on an important local issue? Do you want to foster debate on an issue or start a community conversation? Send us your intelligent commentary and opinion on topical Hamilton issues. We will publish 500-600 word submissions or post your one-minute video commentary on our website. hamilton@cbc.ca.

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